To capitalize on ethical and economic benefits, businesses are promoting increased diversity in the workplace.
Learning Objective: Analyze the social and legislative trends that define the trajectory toward higher levels of diversity and equality in the workplace.
Diversity within the workplace is a broad topic, incorporating the need for social justice and the recognition of the value of employing a diverse workforce to compete in an increasingly global economic environment.
The ethical and economic importance of diversity is well-established. Many businesses support trends that promote diversity in the workplace and minimize group biases.
The early stages of the pursuit of workplace equality arose in the 1960s when the U.S. government promoted affirmative action and legal quotas to increase the number and percentage of employees that represented minority populations in a company's hiring practices. One difficulty with affirmative action is that it encourages employers to fill quotas with members of minority populations according to race, ethnicity, and gender, rather than focus on avoiding and preventing bias among its employees. These laws motivated some employers to hire employees solely based on race, ethnicity, and gender, a hiring practice that is illegal.
Due to the mounting criticism against affirmative action, the equal-opportunity movement evolved from a social justice model toward a model that recognizes the economic value of promoting a diverse workplace. This perspective promotes actions that increase diversity in the workplace, but is based on the intrinsic value of increasing the number of employees who have a variety of different backgrounds, perspectives, ideas, and skillsets.
In addition to supporting social justice, this trend also promotes a more comprehensive understanding of what constitutes a "minority" population, which includes age, physical ability, and sexual orientation, in addition to race and gender. This model of diversity focuses on the value of employing a diverse workforce.
While a persistent wage gap remains, greater gender pay equity presents a statistical example of this trend, since wages for male and female workers continue to trend toward equilibrium. Wage equality has improved due to this trend toward equal-opportunity ethics.
Gender Wage Trend: This chart (1979–2005) illustrates that while gender wage inequality is diminishing, although further efforts are necessary to promote parity.
Promoting diversity in the workplace benefits an organization by bringing a variety of perspectives and opinions to business management and the decision-making process, in addition to its ethical and social justice components. Organizations that lack an inclusive culture experience a dearth of ideas, lower productivity, and higher employee turnover.
A workplace environment that promotes diversity is conducive to our growing global and international economy. Diverse hiring and management practices result in innovation, increased productivity, greater employee satisfaction rates, and general economic growth.
A homogeneous workforce has a much lower capacity to achieve synergy and productive interaction among global vendors and customers. Promoting leadership and upper management that recognizes the strategic value of diversity, benefits from a mindset that pursues knowledge, innovation, and inclusivity in its workplace environment.
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